Charities Operating in France
Many charities are organizations with the aim of helping and raising money for those in need. About 1.3 million of these operate today in France. These represent a budget of €113 billion, equivalent to 3.3% of the French GDP. Even if the right of association is a fundamental public freedom, its status has evolved. The last law of August 2021 aims to consolidate the respect for the principles of the French Republic: indivisible, secular, democratic and social. Here are five charities operating in France.

5 Charities Operating in France

  1. Le Secours Populaire français: Le Secours Populaire français has a global approach to combating poverty. SPF helps people victims of social injustice, natural disasters, misery, hunger, underdevelopment and army conflicts in France and the world. Pierre Kaldor created the organization in 1945. The charity had about 80,000 volunteers in 2020 and has already helped more than 3 million persons in need, making it one of the largest organizations in France. One year after the passage of Hurricane Irma on September 6, 2017, which destroyed 95% of the island of Saint-Martin, the charity remains committed to the population. Beyond the emergency aid of the first months, SPF continues to support the association Saint-Martin Santé (SMS) to support people that Hurricane Irma affected psychologically by offering stress management and wellness workshops.
  2. Apprentis d’Auteuil: Apprentis d’Auteuil gives every young person the chance to access education or training to help them find their place in society. It is a Catholic charity of public utility in France that educates and professionally trains more than 25,000 young people who experienced challenges, about 6,000 families are benefiting from it in 2022. The organization has 200 établissements in metropolitan and Overseas France as nurseries, schools, colleges, vocational high schools, training centers and boarding schools. Today, about 5,000 volunteers and as many employees work in 54 countries. Launched in 2013 by the charity with the support of the L’Oréal Foundation, the hairdressing professional apprenticeship of Tihais welcomes 15 young people aged 15 to 23, offering them rewarding training. A real application salon set up by L’Oréal in high school allows young people to fully invest. The success of this first apprenticeship led L’Oréal to open the second one in the 2014 school year at the Lycée Saint-Joseph in Blanquefort, near Bordeaux.
  3. La Société Nationale de Sauvetage en Mer: La Société Nationale de Sauvetage en Mer optimizes the efficiency of sea rescue and coastal monitoring using innovation, prevention and training. It aims to make people aware of navigation’s risks to ensure a safer and more respectful practice of the sea. On average, 400 persons die at sea per year in France. La SNSM has 218 stations along the metropolitan coast and in overseas France. The number of volunteers increases each year. The organization currently has about 1,200 rescuers. During the sanitary crisis in 2020, many means of transport between island and continent have operated in Bretagne. In Quiberon, Groix and le Conquet, a small crew of volunteers equipped with masks, charlottes and suits, masks transported patients suspected of having COVID-19.
  4. La Croix-Rouge: La Croix-Rouge is the largest French organization. It brings together 97 million people in France and overseas around seven principles: humanity, impartiality, neutrality, independence, volunteering, unity and universality. Created in 1864, volunteers give humanitarian assistance to people touched by an army conflict or in a situation of armed violence. The charity also raises awareness of the rules that protect victims of war. More than 1 million French citizens have received first aid training to help 3.6 billion around the world. Following the attacks of 2015, la Croix-Rouge has evolved its action by integrating the learning of techniques and the use of new material to best respond to these exceptional situations. Parisian local units have also multiplied the initiations to first aid, training hundreds of people in the gestures that save, especially during the campaigns Paris qui sauve and Samedi qui sauve in the City of Paris.
  5. Les Restos du Coeur: Les Restos du Coeur is the most popular of these five charities operating in France. It provides voluntary assistance for people, notably in the food industry. It gives people access to free meals and assists them in social and economic inclusion. Created by Coluche in 1985, this organization mobilizes 75,000 volunteers. In 2020-2021, the charity distributed 142 million free balanced meals to 1.2 million welcomed people. Food aid is an emergency aid but mostly a central contact point to accompany people to independence. An extensive national food collection occurs every year in March in hypermarkets and supermarkets. About 1,915 Restos centers then distribute throughout France. The people helped go there once or several times a week. They are also places of welcome, meeting and exchange where one can drink a coffee, spend a moment in the warm, establish contacts and, thus, go further in the social insertion.

Looking Ahead

These charities’ scope of engagement is very diverse. In France, the four main fields of activity are social, health, sport and culture. Many volunteers are involved in charities, which increases by 4.9% per year in France. Furthermore, the creation of organizations leads to an augmentation of wage employment. More than 1.8 million persons are full-time or part-time employees representing an increase of 2.4% between 2011 and 2017. In addition to these five charities operating in France, more and more charities should be able to emerge internationally, to continue helping people in need.

– Olivia Roy Fritsch
Photo: Flickr